The castles of Great Britain and Ireland are timeless relics of a proud heritage. From flamboyant Georgian structures to neo-gothic Victorian designs, famous medieval castles continue to attract history-lovers and romantics from around the world. Castle vacations are in vogue and can be a romantic escape. There are plenty of castles to stay in Scotland, England and Wales.
Castles for the rich and famous
Castles have long been a magnet for the rich and famous. Bond actor David Beckham married former Spice Girl Victoria in a wedding fit for royalty with red velvet thrones and royal trumpeters to greet guests at Luttrellstown Castle near Dublin.
Elizabeth Hurley and Indian businessman Arun Nayar tied the knot in medieval Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds.
Paul McCartney married Heather Mills at St. Salvator’s Church on the grounds of Castle Leslie, a 17th-century castle that is now a 14-room luxury hotel near the Northern Irish border.
Stay in a castle
Some medieval castles now lie in ruins but there are many castles that have been lovingly restored and reincarnated as luxurious hotels and castle resorts where ordinary travellers can experience a stay in a castle, living like a king or queen.
A castle vacation is a chance to experience what it’s like to live like royalty. Look inside these castles and you’ll be transported to a different era. Here are our picks of the most famous castle resorts in Great Britain.
Best castles in England
1- Amberley Castle, West Sussex, England
Only a one-and-a-half-hour drive from London is the 900-year-old Amberley Castle. The castle’s medieval atmosphere comes complete with suits of armour, tapestries, crossbows and arched stone castle doorways.
Built in the 12th century as a hunting lodge for the Bishop of Chichester, the castle has been enjoyed by both Queen Elizabeths I and II.
The luxurious bedrooms and suites have four-poster beds, rich wall hangings, antique decorations and modern additions like en-suite jacuzzi bathrooms and TVs.
Guests can while away the time playing tennis or croquet. The most romantic spot is the enchanting rose gardens complete with resident peacocks hidden behind the castle’s soaring stone walls.
2- Thornbury Castle, South Gloucestershire, England
Of the many medieval castles interior, this one has a historic charm. King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn once slept in the Duke’s Bedchamber.
Although the royal couple would have been familiar with four-poster beds, stone walls, roaring fires and ornately carved ceilings, they might have been amazed at the well-appointed bathrooms and colour TVs.
This 16th-century castle is the only Tudor castle in England to operate as a hotel and has the oldest Tudor gardens in England.
Croquet, archery, clay-pigeon shooting and falconry are available on the castle grounds while fishing, quad biking and other activities can be arranged nearby.
The menu changes on a daily basis and offers internationally-inspired British cuisine prepared with herbs and vegetables grown on the premises.
More castles to stay in England
Leasowe Castle Hotel (Moreton, UK) – Leasowe Castle Hotel was built in 1592 and has been converted into a 4-star hotel with en-suite rooms, a modern bar and has lovely gardens. Portcullis Restaurant’s specialty is English and French cuisine.
Bickleigh Castle (Tiverton, UK) – A 14th-century castle surrounded by lush gardens in charming Devon.
Camelot Castle Hotel (Tintagel, UK) – Take a step back into history in Cornwall while staying at this castle hotel.
Tawstock Castle (Devon, UK) – Fancy a self-catered holiday castle in Devon? Book your next family holiday at Tawstock Castle.
Tregenna Castle Resort (St Ives, UK) – Escape to the Cornish coast and live like royalty in a room or an apartment by the sea.
Pentillie Castle Estate (Saltash, UK) – Located on the Tamar river, this is a family operated castle in a popular golfing region.
Ryde Castle (Ryde, UK) – Victorian charm by the sea
Best castles in Scotland
1- Inverlochy Castle, Scotland
Queen Victoria, who spent a week at Inverlochy sketching and painting in 1873, wrote in her diaries ‘I never saw a lovelier or more romantic spot’.
Inverlochy Castle was built in 1863 near the site of the original 13th-century medieval fortress and was a private residence until 1969 when it was converted into a hotel.
Share the breathtaking views of Ben Nevis and the Scottish highlands with a celebrity or two.
Past visitors include Robert Redford, Sean Connery, Elton John and Mel Gibson. Dine like a visiting royal in one of the three dining rooms elaborately decorated with furniture presented by the King of Norway.
While staying at Inverlochy, take is 1.5-hour drive to Inverness (see this guide to Inverness), where Inverness Castle that sits grandly overlooking the city.
More castles to stay in Scotland
Glengorm Castle (Tobermory, UK) – A 19th-century castle with fireplaces and four-poster beds. Live like a lord in this super B&B.
Mansfield Castle (Tain, UK) – Experience the magic of a Scottish Highlands castle in an 1870’s castle in the historic town of Tain.
Castles in Wales
Ruthin Castle Hotel & Spa (Ruthin, UK) – King Arthur fans can step back in time in northern Wales (near Chester in England) in this historic castle.